A couple of Phoenicians living temporarily in Roma

Everyone’s Dream or The Grass is Always Greener?

Every day that you slog to work, dragging your tired body and mind out of bed; stuck in traffic or smashed on a crowded bus; dreading all the emails sitting in your inbox; trying to avoid the boss who can’t be pleased; the disgruntled customer; the coworker who annoys you every time you have to speak to them; and you think to yourself, “If only I could quit this job AND…play golf…or pursue my hobby…or sit around all day and watch TV in my under ware if I want to…or travel the world…or live on the beach…or a million other thoughts that cross your mind, day in and day out over the course of your working life…What would you do if you didn’t have to get up every day and go to work? And you found yourself living temporarily in a foreign country where you didn’t speak the language and couldn’t work?

I know that there are too many people out there, in many corners of the world, who would love to go to work everyday. Millions who are struggling to find a job, where none exists. Millions who are over qualified or under qualified. Laid off. Forced into early retirement without the savings to support oneself or one’s family.

I’m one of the lucky ones, I know. I had a job. I’ve worked all my life…since my first “real” job when I was 14 years old working weekends at the local country club restaurant. I babysat the neighborhood kids even before that. There have been times in my life when I had 3 and 4 jobs at one time. I admit that as much as I may have bitched and moaned about it in the past, I like to work. It provides structure to your day. A sense of accomplishment. Opportunities for improvement. A community of people to interact with each day. Goals. Time management. Comaraderie. Money.

I took a leave of absence from my job when we first came to Rome. I had to resign when we decided to stay on another year. I don’t want to sound ungrateful or to seem like I’m whining (maybe I am just a bit). But, I miss working. I miss the mental challenge. I miss the structure. I miss the companionship. I miss having my own money.

Don’t get me wrong, I do have some structure to my day. I get up every morning and make Michael breakfast and pack his lunch. I go to the palestra (gym). I do the laundry, which in Italia is a chore since we don’t have a dryer (most private homes don’t) and so you can only wash as many clothes in a day as you have room to hang to dry. I keep the apartment clean. I do the shopping and cooking. I even iron Michael’s shirts for him. And while I know these tasks have value, frankly they aren’t very stimulating.

Likely, if you’re reading this, you’re now trying to solve this dilemna for me. You’re thinking, “Why don’t you go to school?” “Have you seen all the sights in Rome?” “How about taking up painting?” “Write a book!” “Teach English” “Volunteer!”

Believe me, I’ve thought all these things myself. Every day. Multiple times a day.

I’ve done a bit of research on expat sites. I’m not the only woman who has put her career on hold and followed her husband so he could work in a foreign land. It seems the solution most women in my situation find is that they need to recreate their work life. Somehow. Work virtually if you can. Teaching English is popular. Writing seems to be big.

I realize the answer for me lies somewhere that I haven’t quite found. Somewhere in between the lines of some catchy phrase. Hidden within a meditation or a prayer. But, I know better. It’s more likely sitting in plain sight, within myself, waiting to be seen.


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8 thoughts on “Everyone’s Dream or The Grass is Always Greener?

  1. Lynn Gillis on said:

    It will come, just keep trusting and enjoying….also, there is value in BEING-NESS, although you wouldn’t know it from most western cultures… thing is always art, I could do some form of it anywhere, anytime….I also LOVE books on CD for the mundane tasks…..since I love to read, it is such a luxury, someone reading to me while I clean or chop or whatever….and when the session is over, I have a clean house, or dinner and have read a few chapeters too…Score! Can’t wait to see where you’re lea– I know it will be fun and an adventure and satisfying…MWAH!

  2. Raymond Farrish on said:

    An inspiring note. Thanks so much for posting it. I’m sure it will bring renewed hope to many to realize there are others in a position similar to their own. One possible suggestion if you like to cook … give cooking lessons. Advertise online for people in the U.S. to sign up for your class on Italian cooking … then arrange a teaching tour and schedule based upon the number of people who sign up. You might be able to tie this in witha side business guiding people when they come to visie Italy on vacation.

  3. Wow. This post resonates! I retired from work 2 years ago. Not for any reason other than I simply did not want to do it any longer and preferred not having anyone other than myself, pushing my buttons. My husband encouraged it. His second career took off just as mine winded down. We’re not rich, but have small incomes and we found a place and a way to make it all work. Of course, we are in the states, speak the language, and have many friends here. We also live in a “dream location”, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. BUT, I hear you….loud and clear. I COULD be doing so much more with my time. I have nothing but it. I still, at almost 65 years of age, think I might “become” something more than the R.N. that I was. I still have problems allowing myself to just sit, read, sew, knit or whatever it is I can do, without feeling guilty. I’m learning. In 3 weeks, I will begin a new phase of my life. My mother was ill, died in July, I had 2 elective but major surgeries recently, and my 91 father won’t grocery shop for himself. SO, I am off to Assisi for an entire month, on my own. I will work out my grief, learn more about myself, feel less guilty, get back to writing and may even read a book….all without guilt.
    So, let’s both hope that the “being-ness” that Lynn Gillis has described, will invade our lives and spur us on to a new way of being productive, to investing in ourselves because you know what, life is very,very short and so worth the effort.
    Buona fortuna!
    Lynn G

    • Lynn,
      Thanks for your thoughtful and thought provoking note. Life is truly a journey! Let me know if I can lend any support to you while you are in Assisi…if just a listening ear. And thanks for reading my blog.
      Buona fortuna a lei (I’m still learning Italian, so my apologies if that’s not correct),

  4. Gerri.
    How about taking a day trip up to Assisi when I am in residence? It would be nice to meet, have lunch and enjoy Assisi. I will be ready to peek out from my self-imposed solitude by the 3rd week, maybe even sooner. We can practice our Italian! I’ve been slugging away it for years and still have problems when it comes to opening my mouth and speaking but I won’t quit. For now, I am going to commit to getting back to my blog. I had a day of deconstructing my mother’s personal life yesterday, emptying closets, going through her purse etc. It was hard and I should be writing about it as a catharsis.
    A presto

  5. Jeanne Suliere on said:

    Gerrie `
    Interesting food for thought on the opposite side of life ~ you are not working at the moment and I am working at the moment, a full time job that is..but you are doing something important, and that is helping your spouse and look at the great people who have come into your life while living abroad.
    I hear you and have decided I should enjoy my work while I am still at it full time .. and I agree, the structure is important. I really don’t know what I will do when I retire yet. That remains to be seen… I am living vicariously through your great guide of the interesting sites you are seeing, and the people you are meeting.
    You inspire me~
    Jeanne in Sedona

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